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No worries: Natty Boh back in Baltimore for 2016

1954 Baltimore Orioles programSocial media can be a harsh mistress, as a rumor that National Bohemian beer — or Natty Boh, as it’s popularly called — would not be returning to Oriole Park in 2016 was quickly squashed by the Baltimore Orioles front office.

Natty Boh isn’t locally owned or brewed any more: it’s owned by Pabst Brewing Company in a portfolio of former regional beers that includes ballpark favorites Ballantine Ale (it’s a Ballantine Blast!), Old Style — still on sale at Wrigley Field — and Rainier, the cornerstone of Emil Sick’s business empire, the namesake of the old Seattle Rainiers and the origin of the current Tacoma Rainiers. Natty Boh was part of the Orioles from the very start: National Brewing Co. president Jerry Hoffberger was a part-owner of the team after the move from St. Louis in 1954, and the brewery stepped up with some serious sponsorship bucks, as seen in the adjacent program cover. After the demise of Gunther Beer and the decision by Hamm’s to withdraw its sponsorship, Natty Boh became the official beer of the Orioles in 1965, the same year Hoffberger took over as Orioles majority owner. When Natty Boh returned to Orioles games in 2011, there was great celebration among beer geeks and hipsters with a predilection for nostalgia brands.

So when a rumor that Natty Boh would be removed from the Oriole Park beer lineup hit social media, the Orioles felt compelled to respond. No, Natty Boh would still be sold at the ballpark. The change: a dedicated Natty Boh concession stand in the first-base lower concourse would be rebranded to accommodate other popular regional craft beers, including Dogfish Head and Flying Dog. And while there would be the loss of that space, the Orioles could end up selling Natty Boh at additional concession stands as well. Still, there’s a valuable lesson here: even though Natty Boh was probably just a niche product on the ledgers, it’s the sort of product that inspires a lot of loyalty — and that loyalty is important when luring fans back multiple times on an 81-game schedule.

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